Partyin' in the Porkies: Part II

continued from part I

The chill and continued rain of Thursday morning led to us quickly cooking up our breakfast and eating in the car.  Though we hadn't seen the warning yet, the sky told us the day would hold more rainfall.  Considering the already-damp nature of the trails, the night's rain could hardly improve the trail conditions.  Moreover, seeing as Heather had completed the longest hike of her life, and we had both strained ourselves in the heat and too little water . . . a new adventure was sought after.  As I sent off a couple of emails in the visitors' centre, Heather hunted for options for the day.  Our conclusion was to jump in the car, head off for Copper Bay, and stop at whatever points of interest grabbed our attention.

Our first couple points of interest were some beaches along Lake Superior.  As we drove along, we saw signs for Misery Bay and Agate Beach.  Asking me which I preferred, I rooted for Misery Bay and was quite miserable as Heather turned toward Agate Beach.  I let her know this quite strongly (stifling smiles as best I could) as we went along.  When we finally got to Agate Beach, we were made the more miserable by the fact that neither of us knew what agates looked like, though I pointed out that it was the state rock of Minnesota.  We then posited that the publicity of the name 'Agate Beach' had caused the agates to be removed.

Next we came to the intriguing town of Houghton.  A town we had no idea how to pronounce the name of.  We continued uttering the name in all the possible pronunciations we could think of.  HUFF-ton.  HOE-ton.  HOE-Ug-ton.  Hug-town.  Hue-ton.  Hoe-uh-tone.  HOFF-ton.  By the time we reached this town, we had turned quite absurd, a fact no likely improved by consumption of caffeine.  We enjoyed looking at the courthouse with it's "opulent High Victorian design." (See picture below.) When we looked around inside, we put on hushed voices as if we weren't allowed and hunted for a bathroom (which we never found).  The downtown of Houghton was quite charming, but after wandering for a bit and getting a tacky UP postcard, we jumped in the car, crossed the bridge to Hancock and enjoyed it's charm and considered whether we should try a pasty as we ventured further on.

By this point, our accents were changing with such frequency that we soon got on the subject of singing in accents, and we realized we both loved singing with a twang to "All I want is You" by Barry Louis Polisar.  Then this happened . . .

If you didn't catch her words, at the end she says "We are stopping so I can take pictures . . . .  Ahhhh! Oh it's so gorgeous!  I'm taking pictures!"  And that we did.  We spent the next 12 minutes photographing the storm on its way in--she on the dock, and I alternating between a rock, standing in the lake, and the shore.

As the rain came, we ran back to the car, resumed singing, and continued through the pouring rain.  Folksy gift shops with fruit jams, rainy roads, a site of a ship-wreck, scenic views, falls, and delightful views of Lake Superior were among the activities which comprised our day.  We ran through sprinkles and sometimes donned the umbrella.  When things cleared up a bit, we came across some more Michigan blueberries, and paused to increase our stock.

My dear friend and adventurous hiking/camping companion

All-in-all, the drive and miscellaneous stops in the rain were a nice follow-up to a day in the heat and mud and insects.  The drive back afforded great views of Lake Superior.

We returned to the campground after dark, and the wetness all around caused us to climb into our tent, which still held damp bedding.  We each took to our individual sleeping strategies as we listened to the waves of Lake Superior on the shore and the rain pounding on our tent like a tantrum-throwing toddler.  Our tent lit up with the flashes of lightning, and the thunder continued on like the low grumble of a man's voice.  I woke frequently to the noise, but, curled up like a cold kitten, I was able to avoid the wet lower half of the bedding.  Sometimes I woke to Heather's sleeping strategy.  She had put her feet into a plastic bag and propped her legs up on the plastic bag that held our shoes.

The next morning. Breakfast.  Realize there is no water in the campsite due to storming.  Break camp.

Hike 3: Friday (4 miles / 6.5 km)

Equipped with bug spray
and her gorgeous netted hat
Ready to hit the road and avoid bringing invasive species, we snuck our purchased excess lumber into the camp shop (the 18-year-old worker wouldn't accept our wood, so we snuck it back into the wood shed--we weren't about to transfer wood out of the park and destroy the Minnesota ecosystem!).  Then we went on our final hikes of the trip.  It was waterfall day.

We played lazy and first just walked all of 100 m to the first waterfall.  Then we went over to Presque Isle for their waterfall trail loop.  The first half of that hike (about 3 km) was on more of a wilderness trail, ridden with fallen trees and tree roots.  The second half boasted a boardwalk with clear views of the falls.  Due to the previous two nights (and full day) of rain, the falls were gushing.  It was a nice relaxing walk to end our journey.

Did you know that Birch bark
sometimes turns gold?

Heather with her "double scoop" of ice cream.
Oh, America.
We then resumed the travel back, stopping briefly in Superior, Wisconsin to admire a mansion before choosing to hit up a couple of sites in Duluth.  In Duluth, we enjoyed the view from Enger Tower (and ate more wild blueberries), drove through the historic riverfront area, walked through some rose gardens, and then stopped at the local Dunn Bros, which is housed in a wood cabin.  Then, a few more hours in the car, a stop for graham crackers, and an encore campfire with s'mores after the cooler was washed, clothing was in the washer, and some semblance of order was regained.  We concluded the night with a little more oral reading from The Exact Place by Margie L. Haack and another book that Heather chose.

Duluth, Minnesota (as seen from Enger Tower)
As I think back on our week camping, I am honoured that my dear friend would take some holiday time to go adventuring with me.  I'm thankful for a friend that can carry such a positive attitude through storms, mosquitos, changed plans, and a not-always-so-positive me.  Moreover, without her spirit of adventure, this camping endeavor would have never been conceived of.  Thanks, Friend!


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